READ ALSO. Jan Vertonghen makes a strong statement about rainbow band: “I better not say anything, because I want to be on the field against Canada”
Nine Devils of this generation went to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with a blank slate. Reaching the second round was the goal, the quarterfinals a plus. It became the latter. Everyone satisfied.
The ambitions were adjusted for the 2018 World Cup. The Golden Generation, with sixteen Devils who are still there today, had to reap. A semi-final was the minimum. It became a semi-final and a third place, the best World Cup performance ever. A mass of people then waited for the Devils in Brussels. The people propose, the people dispose. Successful campaign.
Is it the saturation after four major tournaments, two World Cups and two European Championships in a row? The desire for always more? Or can we all just agree that this generation is past its peak and the next isn’t ready yet? In any case, there is a form of pessimism about the chances of the Red Devils to let the fans run a polonaise again. That wonderful summer of 2018 seems far away – and not just because it is now autumn. Friday’s lost practice match against Egypt, in which so much went wrong, pushed pessimism even further. Also: five defeats since last year’s European Championship, which is the same as in the five years before.
Faster, fresher, more dynamic
With or without Romelu Lukaku, with or without Eden Hazard, a generation on the wane or not: today, more than ever, it is up to our national team to generate enthusiasm. To show all those pessimists. The second oldest selection at this World Cup should not radiate that age. It becomes the crucial question: can the Devils show against Canada that the lethargy that seems to be taking over the team more and more can stop it? It can be faster, fresher and more dynamic.
READ ALSO. Roberto Martinez is clear: “We are better with Eden, he will start against Canada”
They can certainly play football better than their opponent, who is only present at a World Cup for the second time after 1986. Three or four Canadian top players would make the Belgian selection. There are Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David and Tajon Buchanan, but there is also a player who plays for… Deinze in our second division. However, don’t underestimate them. The Canadians are not that different from their American neighbours. They are confident and play with passion. Like their southern neighbors in the first half against Wales last night. It was overwhelming.
Winning is imperative
The discussion about the Red Devils and how far their ambitions may reach at this World Cup will not stop with a win tonight. But a win becomes an impetus for optimism and, above all, a first step towards the next round – the minimum ambition.
Winning is imperative. The looks must be rigid, the tension must be raging through the body. Flying in, there’s really nothing else to do. The question marks have to go. Time to flame.
READ ALSO. Call for Vertonghen and Hazard to kiss before kick-off reaches Vertonghen: “Deal! Now to convince Eden”